Conformational analysis of GpA and GpAp in aqueous solution by molecular dynamics and statistical methods

Jesús Giraldo, Shoshana J. Wodak, Daniel Van Belle

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Barnase, an extracellular endoribonuclease from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, hydrolyses single-stranded RNA. Its very low catalytic activity toward GpN dinucleotides, where N stands for any nucleoside, is markedly increased when a phosphate is added to the 3'-end, as in GpNp. Here we investigate the conformational properties of GpA and GpAp in solution, in order to determine whether differences in these properties may be related to the changes in enzymatic activity. Two independent 1.3 ns molecular dynamics trajectories are generated for each dinucleotide in the presence of explicit water molecules and counter ions. These trajectories are analysed by monitoring molecular properties, such as the solvent accessible surface area, the distance and orientation between the bases, the behaviour of torsion angles and formation of intramolecular H-bonds. To identify relevant correlations between these parameters, statistical techniques, comprising multiple regression, clustering and discriminant analysis are used. Results show that GpA has a significant propensity to form folded conformations (~ 50%), fostered by a small number of intramolecular H-bonds, whereas GpAp remains essentially extended. The latter behaviour seems to be due to an H-bond between the terminal phosphate and adenosine ribose group, which restricts rotation about the adenine Aγ angle. We also find that GpA folding is induced by a concerted motion of specific torsion angles, which is closely coupled to the formation of a network of flexible hydrogen bonds. Finally, on the basis of an expression for barnase K(M), which incorporates the folded/extended conformational equilibria of the dinucleotide substrates, it is argued that our findings on the differences between these equilibria, can qualitatively rationalize the experimentally measured differences in enzymatic properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-882
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 1998


  • Barnase
  • Conformational families
  • Dinucleotides
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Stacking


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